Life as a special needs parent can be overwhelming and stressful. It can be even harder when you are surrounded by people who don’t share your experiences. You may feel alone and don’t know where to turn for support. Parent support groups can immerse you in families with similar experiences bringing you much needed support for your daily life. They can also provide other benefits – emotionally and knowledge based. To get the conversation started, here are 4 reasons why you should join a parent support group.
The first reason to join a support group is to share information with one another. You can share experiences on certain diets, programs, funding, services, etc. If the group is local, you can also share information on camps, doctors, therapist, and more. The possibilities are endless when you have other parents that you can use as resources.
You may also find children who have similar interests as your child at a support group. This could mean new friends for your child. Maybe both children like making music or reading books. You can set up play dates and encourage your child to make new friends. You can also plan activities outside the home with the other family. It will be nice to be in same situation with people who understand and relate to your family unit. This could provide opportunities to develop social skills for your child and it can help you sit back and just enjoy your child’s joy.
Speaking of new friends, joining a support group can also help you make new friends. As a special needs parent, you may not have a lot of time committed to your social life and you may begin to feel lonely. It is important to recognize that you have to care for yourself too and spending time with friends can be a good start. You may feel more at ease spending time with someone who has similar experiences as you. Even just going out for an hour to grab coffee with a friend can give you time to take a break and re-group for the rest of the day.
A huge reason to join a parent support group is for emotional support. Family members and friends who aren’t in similar situations may not understand and may not provide the support system you need. You may feel out of place and alone; feelings of isolation are extremely common for parents of children with special needs. Meeting parents who can relate can develop a sense of community. You may end up feeling more understood and that can make a world of a difference for your emotional health.
Joining a parent support group may help you develop in all areas of your life. It may even help you learn critical information and make new friends for you and your child. A support group is created to provide support and it is okay to take time out of the day to take care of yourself and relate to other parents. If you have additional reasons or want to share how a support group has helped you, please submit it through a comment. We hope these reasons can help get you thinking and considering why a support group may work for you.